South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 1st day December 18, 2013

Don't think SA quicks were threatening - Kohli


After scoring a hundred in his first Test innings in South Africa, a knock that reminded Allan Donald of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli displayed a sense of occasion befitting an elder statesman, and some anger at host broadcasters. Both motivate him, and should not be overly frowned upon. It was at Wanderers that Kohli was hit by a short ball in the ribcage - he was early on the pull - a clip that was shown during the third ODI with a caption that said "Virat Kotli - softened up." It was by all accounts a harmless piece of television to accompany a commentary discussion about getting hit on the body and then coming back, but it obviously rubbed India the wrong way.

At Wanderers again, Kohli pulled Dale Steyn for two fours, and Jacques Kallis for one. The third of these pulls was sumptuous, but not as spicy as Kohli's description of it. "Apparently I was pretty soft after the first ODI," Kohli said. "I always had it in mind that we were all going to get short stuff unless you attack them. So rather get out playing your shots than fishing outside the off stump. I was prepared and I was watching the ball closely. Later on they started bowling at the fifth-sixth [stump], so I don't know where that bodyline bowling went. It is all about dictating terms when you bat. You can't always play under pressure. Let them know you are here to compete. We have shown we have learnt from mistakes, we have practised hard. We stuck to plans, and you will see us improving as we play next."

Dictating the terms remained the refrain of the Kohli press conference. "I have been waiting for this opportunity to bat up the order," Kohli said. "It's something that I badly wanted to do in Test cricket because I am so used to going in at No. 3 in ODIs. I like to be in the action early on and get in while conditions are tough and then dictate terms. I had a plan in mind that I wanted to stick to, and wasn't thinking about bowling, conditions, or the wicket. I just wanted to execute my plan."

That does sound a bit like Ricky Ponting. There was more to come, without being disrespectful or obnoxious. "I don't think they were threatening at all," Kohli said of South Africa's attack. "They are quality bowlers, but it was about respecting the conditions early on when you went in and the kind of bowling you were facing after that. You have got to get in and back yourself throughout. If they are good enough to play at this level, so are you. I had that belief, but had to respect the good balls that are being thrown at you. At the same time, you have got to be aware of cashing in on opportunities that are presented. That was key to my knock today, I latched on to whatever chances came my way, putting them away for boundaries."

The press conference wasn't all about sledging, though. Kohli displayed his mellow side too. "Funny because even during the ODIs versus Australia, I was thinking about getting a Test hundred in South Africa," he said. "That was all that was on my mind. I wasn't even focussing on those ODIs or any other games we played against West Indies. Every training session we had I was motivating myself to do something like this. Because I know how special it has been for players to get a hundred in South Africa, it was very pleasing to do so. It is probably the best I have batted in Test cricket till now. It is just about building on to it and it feels nice when you plan something and it comes together, especially against a world-class bowling attack."

Kohli expressed disappointment at not having batted through the day, but was not thinking twice about the shot he played, a wide ball that he chased, which stopped on him and lobbed for a catch to short cover.

"If you are batting at 120 and don't got for your shots, you can never go for your shots."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on December 20, 2013, 10:50 GMT

    for all them who are criticizing south african test team please remember the odi series where india came as favourites and last 2-0 being a number 1 team

  • Bhaskar on December 20, 2013, 10:24 GMT

    @ Daniel kerr - Look at the scoreline now, South Africa is the overrated team & Kallis the backyard bully gone for a golden duck. in 1st INNINGS India leads by 36 runs. LOL

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2013, 13:23 GMT

    I do remember a test last year where the South African bowlers looked toothless on the first day. I think it was on the Oval, a field where South Africa never won. Can any one remember what happened next? Similar to this match! England was in tears!

  • Harmon on December 19, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    Logic of a few guy here is that SA have shown their bowling might by taking the wickets of tail-enders on day two, that too when it was overcast & the bottom 5 had 5 walking wickets.

    Fact is, on Day One, barring Dhawan, SA troubled no Indian batsman. Kohli & Pujara showed that Steyn & Morkel can be tackled & on various occasions in the match, Philander, Kallis & Tahir looked distinctly 3rd grade. By taking 4 lower order wickets, Philander kept his stats intact but this does nothing to dispel the notion that basically he is rather ordinary & like Anderson needs swing to get going. If Bhuvi had a Steyn like bowler at the other end he would have Philander like stats too.

    As for Kohli, he got a 100, looked in no trouble at all & got out due to a lapse in concentration & not due to any great bowling by SA. Thus he has the right to say that SA bowling wasn't threatening on Day One.

    It is to be noted that Steyn was limping on Day One itself. Scarring by sleight-of-hand by Kohli perhaps???

  • Gavin on December 19, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    Today the conditions are the usual bowlers conditions we see at the wanderers. Lucky for india that it was not like this yesterday or they might have been skittled for less than 50. Now we will see how the SA batters can handle the conditions and how the indian bowlers manage to exploit them. The sun is coming out, looking forward to 2 good sessions today!!!

  • Vinod on December 19, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    Ahem. 5/25 on day 2 tells a different story.

  • Randy on December 19, 2013, 10:14 GMT

    Ha! Quicks not threatening. India have just been bowled all out for less than 300. No offensive, but you can never write off the best pace and seam attack in the world. They will not have many bad days and to be honest, Kohli should be less bullish and more respectful

  • Rahul on December 19, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    Kohli can be as cocky and arrogant as he wants. It is better having that, than being a meek mouse.

    These current Indian batsman are fearless. For most, this is their FIRST series away from India and their FIRST in South Africa.

    I still think India will compete well in both matches. As long as they do that and show fight, I will be content. Who knows, even nick a win?

  • Gavin on December 19, 2013, 9:51 GMT

    And very funny now to see the headline "Quicks demolish India for 280" and right below that we see this article. Love it Cricinfo, this is priceless.

  • Dummy on December 19, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    Postive thinking from young player-virat

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